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  1. #1
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    Nov 2007
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    Default Police Welfare Check

    Pennsylvania - State Police

    When you call the police to do a welfare check on someone will they do whatever it takes to get inside the home when all other options are either unavailable or haven't worked?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Police Welfare Check

    what kind of welfare check are you talking about?

    If the police believe there are exigent circumstances, they can force entry. Anything less, the need a warrant or permission to enter.

  3. #3
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    Dauphin County, PA
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    Default Re: Police Welfare Check

    The kind where if someone you know is unreachable and may be possibly hurt or dead.

    I am worried about a friend. I have stopped by his home on 2 occasions. One a week ago and one yesterday. There is no answer and 5 newspapers at the door (weekly newspaper) , the mail box is overflowing and there are items all over the porch that people dropped off for him.

    He is in his late 60's and is going through a difficult time since April when his wife left him and took their children with. He has no phone nor a vehicle.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Police Welfare Check

    They could walk around the house and try to see if they could see anything amiss inside. Absent seeing (or hearing, or smelling, etc.) something suspicious, I agree with JK, they'd need a warrant to enter. However, the totality of circumstances you describe may be enough to GET such a warrant issued.
    Catherine NeSmith
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  5. #5
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    Jan 2008
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    Exclamation Re: Police Welfare Check

    Please call ASAP. You certainly won't get punished for making the request!

  6. #6
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    Nov 2007
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    Dauphin County, PA
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    Default Re: Police Welfare Check

    Thank you, I hope they are be able to get permission to go inside or at least get more information off of a neighbor.

    I appreciate the quick responses.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Police Welfare Check

    What you call a welfare check would probably fall under the "community caretaking" function pronounced in Cady.

    p.441:

    Local police officers, unlike federal officers, frequently investigate vehicle accidents in which there is no claim of criminal liability and engage in what, for want of a better term, may be described as community caretaking functions, totally divorced from the detection, investigation, or acquisition of evidence relating to the violation of a criminal statute.



    http://supreme.justia.com/us/413/433/case.html

    To my knowledge the SC has never expanded Cady to a home entry, but some states have as I have read case law on it before.

    The gravaman here is there is no evidence but the person has not surfaced for a few days, no other indication of foul play, a health concern, etc.

    Even if PA recognized such home Cady exception, the facts as laid out do not justify an entry.

    If you believe you have his "implied" permission to enter, you may consider breaking a window to get in. Would the police charge you? Not if the home owner would not, if able to speak for himself.

    IOW, if you say to yourself would he mind if you would break a window to enter to check on him, would he say yes. This is implied permission, meaning not expressly given.

    It is possible he has sadly died, yes. You have to make a decision on what to do.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    California
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    Default Re: Police Welfare Check

    I think it has been covered well, but essentially the police woul dneed some exigency to make entry. The newspapers stacked up out front, his age and health, the presence of vehicles, etc. - all would play a part in any decision to make entry. What the police likely would do would be to walk around the residence and look n the windows as they can, see if they can see or hear anything - TV, radio, running water - and also check to see if anything else is unusual inside. Under the right set of circumstances, they can force entry.

    Sometimes folks go away with friends or family and no one notices. That is why the police might check with neighbors to help determine the resident's patterns of behavior and whether any vehicles are missing. If a neighbor or family member has a key, all the better, as there is an implied consent that may accompany that kind of an entry.

    Hopefuly your friend is just off at a casino or on a vacation with family.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

  9. #9
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    Nov 2007
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    Dauphin County, PA
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    Default Re: Police Welfare Check

    I called last week on Thursday the 11th for the State Police to see if they can check on my friend. They didn't go out until Friday and I was able to be there by the time they went out. The Trooper scoped out the house, attempted to look in windows but didn't really get anywhere with them being either the blinds were closed or curtains pulled down. He noted the mail and checked the dates seeing that it went back about 5 weeks worth, noticed the newspapers on the porch had the same timeline. He also noted the donated supplies on the porch and that the grass hadn't been cut in quite sometime.

    I told him that the back door was open but he stated he didn't have the right to just enter, despite what he was seeing for himself. He spoke to a couple of neighbors who came out to see what was going on and they told us that John had gone for a walk back in may and told his neighbors that he would be back in the evening and would mow the lawns for them that weekend, but that the neighbors said they never saw him come back. I was supposed to see him that Sunday as we were going to go to church together. I then remembered that when John would leave he would place a matchstick in between the doors since he didn't have keys anymore and that if someone was or had been in his house he'd know because of the match stick. I looked at the back door and noticed that the matchstick was in place. After a few minutes the Trooper said there wasn't anything he could do, it didn't seem like John was even home at this point. He did take the remaining mail that was in the box and returned it to the post office since there were social security checks and other important pieces of mail that we didn't want stolen.

    After the Trooper left I allowed myself into his house thru the open back door using the implied permission that I was advised of here, in the past John had stated that if I ever needed a place to stay or there were problems that my door was always open and his home was my home. Once in, it was clear he wasn't in the home and was clear he hasn't been there in a while. The dead fish in the tank were a clear indication of that, I am still unable to find the parakeet. Before I left, I left a note for John just stating I am worried giving him contact info to reach me and stated if I didn't hear from him come Monday I would see about filing a missing person report.

    I had a personal situation to deal with this week but it's now Friday and I still haven't heard from him and there is no change to his surroundings. I am curious if I am able to file a Missing Person report for John, with me being just a friend. He has no family, both parents are deceased, he was an only child and his only family was his wife and kids and they are in Alaska. I have a weird feeling that something is very wrong. He has no car, and he walks everywhere. Sorry for the length I am past the point of worried and now flat out scared. I want to know where my friend is and am wondering if I can file a report and if there is anything else I can do.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
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    Default Re: Police Welfare Check

    You are right to be concerned. Yes, MAKE the missing person report. It might be that he has been taken to the hospital somewhere and might be under an assumed name. Or, God forbid, he took ill while on a walk without ID and he is a John Doe in a hospital or medical examiner's office somewhere.

    Make the missing person report. In my state we are required by law to take a missing person report even if it is not from our jurisdiction. I suspect the law is similar in PA.

    - Carl
    A Nor Cal Cop Sergeant

    "Make mine a double mocha ...
    And a croissant!"


    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns

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